Boundaries of Tram Operation Extended Beyond the Catenary

Alstom’s STEEM system, under testing in Paris, will allow vehicles to run between stops without a catenary.

In January, Bombardier announced the development of a new traction system called Primove that will allow trams to receive power wirelessly by communicating with circuits buried underneath the track. The implementation of this technology would allow streetcars to travel through cities at moderate speeds without requiring the construction of overhead catenaries, whose wires are often seen as the major downside of modern electric rail transit. With its new STEEM system, competitor Alstom may be able to offer the same advantages through battery power storage — at a far lower cost.

Primove has a major advantage — the fact that its power devices are buried — over a similar Alstom system currently being used in the city of Bordeaux, which relies on an exposed third rail that is only activated as a tram passes

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Walt Disney World Monorail Crashes, Shattering Dream

But it’s been creating all the wrong impressions about transit since 1959.

Early yesterday morning, two Walt Disney World Monorail trains slammed into one another, killing a conductor but injuring none of the passengers on board. It was the first accident on the resort’s primary transportation system since it opened in Florida in 1971. A similar operation at Disneyland in California has been shuttling families around the park since 1959 with no fatal accidents thus far — though there have been a few injuries over the years..

If measured by ridership, the Orlando monorail would be the United States’ ninth heaviest-used rapid transit system*, ahead of Los Angeles’ Red and Purple lines. Roughly 150,000 people use the network each day in America’s most visited travel destination, meaning that it plays an important role in shaping the American vision about how transit should work. Walt Disney’s influence on the popular imagination

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Toronto Secures Streetcar Contract — After Exaggerated Fight With Ottawa

New Bombardier trains will be delivered beginning in 2012.

At an emergency meeting last week, Toronto’s city council approved a major new financial commitment to an April contract designed to replace the city’s fleet of aging streetcars. The deal, which comes after the federal government announced that it wouldn’t help pay for the vehicles, requires Toronto to delay several planned capital improvements.

Unlike the United States, which has standard formulas established by the FTA to ensure transit systems nationwide adequate funds for capital maintenance and replacement, Canada’s municipalities must negotiate with Ottawa whenever they need major aid to improve public transportation. Toronto has recently benefited from a major infusion of national and province-level funds for new light rail and subway lines. These projects will make the city one of the most transit-oriented in North America.

But when Toronto Mayor David Miller agreed in April to a C$1.2 billion deal with Bombardier

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Electrification Suddenly in Vogue Again

Canadian, British, American railroad officials fighting to replace diesel locomotives.

With efforts to combat climate change ramping up and ridership on public transportation increasing steadily, electrification of main-line rail corridors is in. Yet, though railroads in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. are studying a conversion to electric traction for passenger and freight trainsets, few corridors are actually being readied for conversion from diesel operation. And even if electrification occurs, rail operators need to be assured that their electricity providers are carbon-neutral if the full advantages of traction operation are to be realized.

Railway electrification has a number of major advantages, including reduced environmental impact, faster running times, and lower operating costs. These benefits are clear in the case of true high-speed rail, which is nearly impossible with diesel locomotives. But freight carriers see improved operations with electrification as well, seeing eliminated fuel transport costs; the simultaneous operation of high-speed passenger and freight

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Damning Report on State of Good Repair Needs Released

» Federal Transit Administration’s study indicates that the nation’s largest rail systems have a long way to go before they’re ready for prime time.

In December 2007, several senators asked the Federal Transit Administration to study the capital needs of the nation’s largest rail systems, and the government agency has released its report today. To put it bluntly, its conclusions are damning and indicate that the United States must invest far more in maintaining its existing transit infrastructure than it is currently, or suffer the consequences of rotting tracks, vehicles, and stations.

Notably, the report indicates that the seven systems studied (Chicago’s CTA, Boston’s MBTA, New York’s MTA, New Jersey Transit, San Francisco’s BART, Philadelphia’s SEPTA, and Washington’s WMATA) have a total $50 billion backlog of repairs necessary to upgrade equipment to a state of good repair. Based on current funding, that backlog will stretch on for decades if nothing is done.

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The Site / The Fight

  • by Yonah Freemark
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